Prevention Of Genital Herpes
The best protection against STIs is to always use barrier protection such as condoms, female condoms and dams . Because herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact, condoms will reduce the risk of transmission, but it will not protect sexual partners completely as condoms do not cover the entire genitals.
Using lubricant with a condom during sex will also reduce the risk of trauma to the genital skin. This has been shown to reduce HSV transmission, especially in the first six months of a sexual relationship. Silicone-based lubricants are recommended.
Remember that herpes transmission can occur when symptoms are present , but may also occur even if there are no genital symptoms through asymptomatic viral shedding.
For people who have frequent episodes of genital herpes, antiviral medication, taken daily, helps to reduce transmission of herpes to a sexual partner.
There Are 2 Herpes Simplex Viruses That Can Cause Infection
- One causes most genital herpes.
- The other virus can also cause genital herpes but more often causes blisters of the mouth and lips.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 1 out of 6 people ages 14 to 49have genital herpes.
Women are more easily infected with herpes than men.
How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
Read Also: What Are The Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
I Have Herpes You Could Too
If you get cold sores, you have herpes. If you get cold sores, you have herpes. If you get cold sores, you have herpes.
There, I said it.
When I got my test results, I cried for an hour. And then I cried some more. Not because I was scared for my health, but because I was afraid of what people would think. Part of me thought no one would ever want to be with me that I was suddenly unloveable. This horrible thing had happened to me without me knowing, and it was never going away.
My mom was the first person I told.
Do you see me differently now that I have herpes? I asked, trying not to cry.
I think youre still the same daughter I had, just more grown-up now, she assured me.
After a pause, she chuckled. Just remember to use condoms.
I always do.
Which barring two ex-partners who had gotten tested and a couple of accidents is true. I have always taken my sexual health seriously. I get tested every six months and expect the same from my partners.
But herpes is so common they dont even test for it on a regular STI panel. I probably wouldnt have ever found out I had it if my partner at the time hadnt had his first outbreak. When he called me to tell me he had herpes, I didnt know what to do. After countless Google searches and conversations with my closest friends, I decided to get tested. Multiple doctors repeatedly told me that getting tested while not showing any symptoms was rare and discouraged. But I wanted to know.
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
Don’t Miss: Can I Still Receive Oral With Herpes
Syphilis: A Greater Health Threat Than Herpes
Syphilis and genital herpes are both STDs that can cause sores in the genital area. Like oral herpes, syphilis can also cause mouth sores, which often clear without treatment. But despite these similarities in symptoms, the two diseases differ in their causes syphilis is caused by a bacteria and herpes by a virus and the health risks they pose.
For most people the exceptions being infants and people who have weakened immune systems or who are chronically ill herpes is more of an annoyance than a dangerous disease. But untreated syphilis can lead to severe complications, including bone, joint, liver, heart, and brain damage.
There are four stages of syphilis, according to the CDC, each with different signs and symptoms. In the primary stage, a painless sore or sores develop where the bacteria first entered the skin or mucous membrane. In the secondary stage, you may develop a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. In the latent stage of syphilis, there are no signs or symptoms, and in the tertiary stage, the bacterial infection can damage the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.
Fever Blisters And Cold Sores Are Oral Herpes Too
Fever blisters and cold sores are just different names for oral herpes, and theyve been around for a very long time. Legend has it that in ancient Rome, the emperor Tiberius banned kissing at public events because of an outbreak of fever blisters. In other words, they even knew back then how contagious fever blisters are.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid contact with a person who has a cold sore and refrain from sharing eating utensils, lip balm, and the like. Note that someone with oral herpes can give you genital herpes if they perform oral sex on you. Avoid kissing and oral sex when outbreaks are present.
There is no cure for fever blisters and no vaccine to prevent them, although research into preventing and treating them is ongoing. If you do get oral herpes, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication and topical anesthetics to relieve symptoms. Some people also choose to take antiviral medication to make cold sores go away faster.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Mouth
You May Like: Can You Get Herpes On Your Skin
When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
The Page You Requested Could Not Be Found
The page might have been removed or typed incorrectly.
Here are some tips and links to help you find what you are looking for.
Search Box Above Please try searching using the search field above. If youre not sure of the spelling, type the first few letters, followed by an asterisk.
These Links To helpful resources and areas on eMedicineHealth.
- Medical and Health Topics A to Z a complete listing of topics to browse.
- Picture Slideshows learn about health and medical topics through pictures
- Medications information on common prescriptions drugs and over-the-counter medications.
- Image Gallery browse through images and illustrations of skin disorders, bites and infestations, medical anatomy and more.
- First Aid and Emergency Guides PDF downloadable guides to help you to be prepared and learn simple, life-saving medical techniques.
- Site Map for eMedicineHealth
You May Like: Can Genital Herpes Go Away Without Treatment
Give Your Partner Time To Think
Some people need time to process whether or not they are comfortable getting involved with someone who has an STI. I once dated someone who disappeared after I told him over drinks that I had genital herpes. He resurfaced after a week to ask me out for dinner, and when I teased him about his vanishing act over artisanal grilled cheeses, he admitted that hed needed time to do his research.
Having someone vanish while they make up their mind may be irritating and nerve-wracking, but it isnt necessarily a bad thing. Some folks need space to noodle through what an STI would mean for their lives if they were to contract one. People with compromised immune systems may need to speak to their doctor. If theyre a good person, theyll pop back up eventually to move forward or let you down nicely.
That being said, occasionally youll stumble across someone who Googles transmission statistics while youre in the bathroom and is good to go as soon as you get back to the restaurant table. Those ones are my favorites.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take To Get Herpes
Pain And/or Itching In Or Around The Blisters
Lesions are usually very painful to touchespecially during the first herpes outbreak, which tends to be more severe. “The main thing that brings women into the office with herpes is pain,” said Dr. Shirazian.
Bumps that you find just by chance when sudsing up in the shower or toweling off probably aren’t herpes. “Herpes lesions will make themselves known and felt,” said Dr. Shirazian. They can also itch, especially as they begin to scab over and heal.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Tested Herpes Without Outbreak
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
Herpes Might Not Have Any Symptoms
You or your partner may not have any herpes symptoms that you can see or feel, or the signs of herpes may be so mild you dont even notice them. Sometimes people confuse herpes symptoms with other things, like pimples, ingrown hairs, and the flu.
Herpes symptoms come and go, but that doesnt mean the infection goes away or that you cant spread it to other people. Once you have herpes, it stays in your body for life.
Read Also: How To Tell My Partner I Have Herpes
What Does A Herpes Outbreak Feel Like
Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of exposure.
The first outbreak is usually the worst. At first, you might develop some flu-like symptoms. Then you might feel itchy or have an uncomfortable feeling around your genitals or mouth before the lesions appear.
Future outbreaks are likely to be milder and resolve faster.
You may have heard that herpes is only contagious during an outbreak. However, it can be transmitted even though there are no visible signs. You can have herpes and not know it.
For those reasons, its important to try to talk with your sexual partners before assuming or blaming.
It can be a challenging situation to cope with. Learning you have herpes can stir a variety of emotions. Its normal to have mixed feelings and wonder what to expect.
Its important to make an appointment with your healthcare provider as quickly as possible. If you have herpes, your healthcare provider can provide important information about managing your condition.
Make a list of questions before you go, which can help you get the most out of your visit. Let your healthcare provider know if youre having trouble understanding the information.
The more you know and understand about herpes, the better prepared youll be to manage your symptoms and condition. Your healthcare provider will help you create a treatment plan that works best for your medical needs.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Herpes If You Wear Protection
How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
Also Check: Do Antibiotics Help Herpes Outbreak
How Herpes Is Diagnosed
Your first step is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have a lesion on your genitals or believe you were exposed to herpes. “Google really can’t tell you if you have genital herpes or not,” said Dr. Shim. A diagnosis of herpes can be made with an exam, but your healthcare provider will also order a culture swab from the sore to confirm the virus.
Your healthcare provider can give you advice on easing symptoms, shortening their duration, and preventing outbreaks in the future. Taking a daily dose of the antiviral drug Valtrex can decrease transmission to a non-infected partner, said Dr. Shirazian. It can also prevent recurrent outbreaks for the person with the infection. Maintaining general healthful habitseating nutritious foods, staying active, and getting enough sleepgo a long way to keeping your immune system able to minimize outbreaks.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Ii
Typically, the first signs of herpes II is a cluster of blister-like lesions in the genital area which spread and merge, break and crust over within four to 15 days. The fluid from these itching, painful sores is highly infectious. Other frequent symptoms are painful urination, urethral or vaginal discharge and swollen lymph nodes. The first exposure or primary episode consists of headache, fever, chills and muscular weakness. Recurrent episodes are less severe and are limited to the affected area.
You May Like: What Does Oral Herpes Look Like
Recommended Reading: Can You Heal From Herpes
Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
Who Might Get Genital Herpes
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms, including dental dams.
Women are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black women are especially vulnerable. An estimated 1 in 2 Black women between the ages of 14 and 49 is infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes.
Also Check: Which Antiviral Is Best For Herpes
Also Check: What To Use For Herpes Outbreak
Case #1 A Person Who Didnt Know They Had It Passed It To Their Partner
A 25-year-old woman named Julia came to the office with a genital skin rash that she had never had before. A herpes swab test came back positive for herpes .
She confronted her boyfriend, Tony, whom sheâd been dating for nine months.
Tony is a young professional who denied having sex outside of his current relationship with Julia. He also said the following:
- Heâs been fully tested for STDs after each relationship ended .
- He hasnât ever had herpes symptoms.
We gave Tony the HSV-2 test , and it came back positive for herpes.
Julia got herpes from Tony. Though heâd never had any symptoms, he shed the virus silently.
Dr. Fâs Explanation
- Itâs very common for people to have herpes and not know about it. Only 20% of herpes-positive people have symptoms. Most people are asymptomatic for life.
- You donât need to have a herpes outbreak to pass the infection. It can be passed through silent herpes shedding. This means that James could have passed it to Julia without having symptoms.
- When people get âfully testedâ for STDs, the testing might not include a herpes test. The CDC doesnât recommend routine herpes testing. And Jamesâs past test results didnât show that herpes testing was performed.